Coming face to face
I grew up in a family where no one really impressed upon me that one could judge people and categorize them on this crazy theory of "caste". Of course I knew that there were these things called "gotro" that you needed to know for Pujo purposes when the "Thakur moshai" would ask you. And I also grew up knowing that there were issues regarding some weddings that took place in our family which were opposed by my grandmother and some others "Brahmoner haater ranna chhara khete parbo na", " barir meye der aar keu biye korbe na" kind. But in my naivette I believed it was something that belonged to the past, when my great grandfather would have two wives because he was a "kulin brahmon" and people had their horoscopes matched and families lined up before they had any hope of tying the knot. I did not even come face to face with any such issue when I got married to someone I fell in love with and no one said anything about checking out horoscopes or castes before giving us their blessing. So this whole concept remained really insignificant and a thing that belonged to the middle ages in my mind until recently.
Of late a lot of people we have met come out right after the exchange of names and pleasantries and ask us what caste we belong to. I was so taken aback the first time that I must have mumbled something like "umm I'm not so sure" and totally withdrawn from the conversation. But after the first few times now I am more seasoned and can deal with questions that to me are rude, an invasion of my privacy and downright in bad taste. I had no idea that this caste thing does bother some people and there are regions in India where it is still a strong determining factor for so many things. May be it is not such a big deal in Bengal or may be I just grew up in a protected environment. Does it really matter what caste I belong to? Will that change the person I am or how I interact with you? Or will it change the way you decide to interact with me? Is it just me or does it bother others too? I am who I am without the tag of caste or religion. Accept me or ignore me, but please don't be judgmental.